Accepting there are ways high stress can improve your life sounds counterintuitive to what you may have learned.
We usually have a negative association with stress, so it’s difficult to accept high stress can improve your life. If you are open to a new perspective, you may accept healthy stress is a good thing.
There is good stress and bad stress. We don’t want a lot of bad stress in our lives because it will affect how we function every day.
The Dangers of Bad Stress
Bad stress can cause:
- Poor focus and concentration levels.
- Feeling irritated, anxious or angry.
- A change in appetite.
- Experiencing headaches or migraines.
- Difficulty in falling asleep at night.
- Health problems.
While it’s highly unlikely we will completely remove bad stress, we have to learn to harness stress productively.
That will allow us to create good stress, which means we’ll use high-stress situations to our advantage.
In my previous management career, I always had to deal with high stress. Being in charge of a manufacturing site brought many challenges related to operational efficiencies, customer satisfaction and profitability.
An example of high stress was when there was an external audit of the site. This meant documentation such as operating procedures had to be up to date. It also required the cleanliness of the site to be at a much higher level.
In a perfect world, things would always be up to date and presentable. That wasn’t the case, which meant additional effort was needed to pass the audit.
Since there was no option but to meet the audit requirements, that was a situation of high-stress being a good thing. My team and I did what was necessary to complete the audit requirements.
Although it was unpleasant to go through, at the end, there would always be a good result. This included knowing what was up to standard and where things could improve. That always helped drive continuous improvements, which is always a good thing.
Learning to harness stress is a valuable quality to have because it will lead to improvements in different areas of our lives.
5 Ways High Stress Can Improve Your Life
Here are five ways high stress can improve your life so you can become better at dealing with different situations.
- It will help you meet deadlines. Whenever we have to meet a deadline, our motivation levels automatically improve. Think about just before going on a vacation. Even though we have many things to get done, we usually end up completing everything that’s essential. High stress can help us complete things.
- It will make you prepare better. Knowing we have to deal with a situation that isn’t normal will cause us to prepare for it. This can include being mentally prepared. The higher the stress, the more we will need to adapt to reach the outcomes we want.
- It will develop greater levels of resilience. As we face high-stress situations often, our ability to deal with them will improve. We’ll know how to use previous experiences to cope with new ones. This means we’re less likely to experience the symptoms of bad stress.
- It will help you learn to recognise your body’s signals. As soon as we label something as stressful, we will have a physical reaction. When we experience different stress, we will know how to identify our emotions and our body’s signals. That will help us generate the emotions we want and take the right actions.
- It will reveal what you’re made of. Stressful situations can either make us or break us. Those who can cope and thrive under high stress usually are more effective and more successful. This can also mean we’ll deal with change better and have higher levels of clarity.
If we can change our relationship with stress, it can support us in dealing with high-pressure situations. The more stress we can deal with, the better our chances of improving different areas of our lives.
If we want to reach the next level of success, we have to deliberately put ourselves in high-pressure situations.
Action Step: Over the next week, do something you consider as highly stressful. It can include something you’ve wanted to do for a while but have held yourself back. Or it can be something you know you should do, but have been afraid because of the stress you think you’ll experience. Try it out and find out what you’re made of.
Question: What are more ways high stress can improve your life?